I’ve been fortunate that my current employer values my experience and interest in China. Therefore my team’s leaders have connected me with colleagues who have spent time in our Asia Pacific operations, culminating in my connecting with my Singapore-based colleague Sim Yee when she visited my office through Waggener Edstrom’s Global Exchange.

Before speaking to Sim Yee, I knew that Singapore played an important role in business and media in the Asia Pacific region. One example is that several international news organizations’ largest bureaus in the region are in Singapore. I’ve also known public relations professionals who start their Asia careers in Singapore then get jobs in Beijing or Shanghai, or vice versa. What I didn’t know was how closely its public relations industry was entwined with mainland China’s.

Basically for public relations, Singapore and Hong Kong are the “hubs”, and mainland China is the biggest “spoke.” This is because for global brands, regional headquarters tend to be located in these places.

What colleagues with experience in Singapore taught me about China and its relationship to Singapore:

  • It’s really common to pitch new business in Singapore for work that will be executed in China.
  • Client companies locate their offices and staff for work in China in Singapore because they don’t trust the Chinese government. Secondary factors in Singapore’s success as a media and business hub: English language, central geographic location in APAC for business trips.
  • Most of the media in China is in Beijing. Chinese media amplify stories more than other countries’ given the heavy presence of wires and syndicating websites. Singapore-based employees need to know Mandarin so they can pitch stories to Chinese media.
  • Unsurprisingly, new business opportunities for China more frequently come from word-of-mouth to request attendance for requests for proposals (RFPs). This is in line with China’s cultural emphasis on guanxi.
  • There is a growing business opportunity for communications work related to health care in China given that the government is pumping money into health care. I already knew about the huge demand for consumer and crisis communications in China given the rapidly growing consumer economy.

View Sim Yee’s blog post on her experience visiting my office here: Seattle: 18 to 29 March 2013. Do you have thoughts on public relations and marketing in Singapore versus mainland China? Let me know in the comments.

Sim Yee Waggener Edstrom Global Exchange(photo courtesy of Sim Yee’s blog, http://meowsyy.com)